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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY             251

touching involve the use of general terms, such as something,
nothing, is, is not, thus, otherwise, where, when, like, unlike, etc.,
and thus lay the foundations of metaphysics. His acquaintance
with water, earth, air, fire, rain, stones, iron, plants, animals, etc.,
prepares the way for jiaftgal scigncg. In like fashion, the intelli-
gent use of words at this stage is the key to all the different
branches of knowledge. As aids to this comprehensive beginning,
Comenius suggests two books: one like his own School of Infancy
to show mothers what to teach, another for the child, like the
Orbis Pictus, that makes the senses the earliest medium of
instruction.

The vernacular school, which comes next in Comenius's scheme,
has as its aim " to give instruction to all young people between
the ages of six and twelve (or thirteen) in those things which
may be of use to them throughout their whole lives/' The main
subjects of the curriculum should be reading (in the pupil's own
language), writing, arithmetic, measuring, singing, history,
geography, the principles of the mechanical arts, as well as
morality and religion. Contrary to the usual practice of confining
instruction in the vernacular to the children of the poor and sending
boys of the better classes to the Latin school for their early
education, Comenius was strongly convinced that all children
should first get a thorough training in and through their mother
tongue. This he believed the better course both on social and on
educational grounds. Not only did it prevent the premature
separation of different classes in two kinds of schools, but it
allowed the pupil to make a beginning in the acquisition of positive
knowledge (which he could not do if he had first to learn Latin),
and at the same time prepared him for the later learning of the
more difficult foreign language. In accordance with the im-
portant principle of gradation of studies, he arranged the work to
be done in the six classes of the vernacular school so as to ensure
a progressive advance, and to each class he assigned its appropriate
textbook.

In the gymnasium or Latin school, the same method of gradation
was to be followed. But the programme of studies was much
more ambitious: nothing less indeed than pansophia, universal
wisdom. 'The pupils were to acquire a knowledge of four languages
and to get a grounding in all the sciences and arts. As Comenius
was never able to establish a complete pansophic school, his plans